The Tragedy of the European Union: Disintegration or Revival? Hardcover – 11 Mar 2014
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"It is clear that his observations about the eurozone crisis and the structural flaws in the euro are largely correct... The book remains an interesting read and Soros does an excellent job of concisely highlighting the challenges facing the EU... The book remains an interesting read and Soros does an excellent job of concisely highlighting the challenges facing the EU."--Forbes.com "Soros's trenchant critique appears on the mark."--Financial Times
"It is clear that his observations about the eurozone crisis and the structural flaws in the euro are largely correct... The book remains an interesting read and Soros does an excellent job of concisely highlighting the challenges facing the EU... The book remains an interesting read and Soros does an excellent job of concisely highlighting the challenges facing the EU."--"Forbes.com"
"Soros's trenchant critique appears on the mark."--"Financial Times"
"The most honest and sensible book yet to tackle the euro crisis. Soros eschews the sanctimony and pseudoscience that frequently accompany commentary on the EU and gets right to the basic political conflicts and human foibles that underlie the union's problems."--Foreign Affairs
Renowned financier and philanthropist George Soros reveals the roots of Europe's current financial crisis and comprehensively assesses the consequences of that crisis for the global economy and on the political ideals embodied by the European Union.See all Product description
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This short, easy to read book is absolutely essential reading - not only for UK's referendum voters, but for every citizen of Europe - but a word of warning - it will.make you feel uncomfortable about the future of the EU,
In four interviews with the Europe correspondent of Der Spiegel you discover the wartime experiences that shaped Soros’ romantic views about the European Union as an “ideal free and open society” and gave him his fundamental insight that if the rules are past their sell-by date you need to break them. Soros tells us what he thinks the EU did right, where he thinks it steered wrong (when it imposed a common currency without carrying on with the reforms that would render the EU an ideal currency union), and why he thinks Europe is now condemned to a lesser future than it could have achieved. You also discover how bad the legendary trader wants to be remembered as a philosopher and a man who used his financial resources to help shape history. And his views about the Middle East, the Ukraine and world politics in general are actually very relevant. Leave it to him to say Putin is currently supporting Assad so the price of oil can stay above 100. You really need to be an 83-year-old billionaire to put that sort of thing in print.
That said, I think he’s got the tragedy wrong. As I’m writing this, Italy can issue 10yr bonds at 3% yield and Angela Merkel’s softly-softly approach that he spends two of the four interviews attacking, seems to have worked. The main economic issue Soros laments, namely that European states have been forced into the position of Latin American countries borrowing in dollars, the essence of the tragedy, seems to be resolved. And Angela Merkel who did not do something radical when she faced a different environment, who did not “lead or leave” Europe, looks vindicated.
That, I presume, is where the fifth chapter of his book ought to come into play, the bonus Appendix where he explains his theory of human fallibility and reflexivity, negative feedback loops (of the kind that made the spread of Italy mean-revert to the current 100bp versus Germany) and positive feedback loops that made it explode in 2011. Soros will have to wait for one of those positive feedback loops, I fear. Meantime, us mortals will have to chuckle about the fact that the theory mainly applies to giants like himself who actually CAN move the market when they trade. I don’ think Apple stock much cares when I’m in and out…
IMHO, the tragedy is not that Germany did not lead, it’s that Europe came face-to-face with bankruptcy and refused to change. Italy still has 28 closed professions and the infamous Article 18 that restricts the size of most business to 15 employees, Greece still has 700,000 public employees (against, say 1,700,000 federal employees in the US), Spanish banks have still only admitted that 13% of their loans won’t be paid, Brussels continues to refuse any assistance to Southern European states that are begging for help with immigration; German real estate is about to go stratospheric due to inappropriately lax and cheap money. We continue to have a distinct North and South, basically, and that’s because it is now 100% expected that the ECB will print.
Soros fails to predict, in essence, that Germany would endorse monetization, and laments an austerity that will not take place for a little while more, when we get to the point of sharing the American experience, which is that you cannot lift anyone but the very rich with the help of the printing press.
Merkel bended, basically. I await the next Soros book, where we’re told why that wasn’t enough.
Having said that, it is a very good read, and a worthy update of Soros's previous contributions to the field. The book is worth reading as a follow up to Soros's previous Financial Turmoil in America and Europe, however this updates Soros's thinking on the field to take into account recent events.
The basic premise turns the commonly held assumption, that Germany is the savior of the EU, on it's head. Soros points out that Mrs Merkel is doing the bare minimum to save the EU, and the notion of Germany leaving the Euro, a notion held as a possible danger by others, would according to Soros, be a net bennefit.
If Germany left, the periphary countries could competitively devalue, their exports and services would be more competitive, and a new Deutschmark would be more reflective on the net worth of Germany's currency.
Soros contends that peripheral Eurozone countries are now in a situation similar to Latin American or other developing countries, who borrowed in the dollar, and are forced to repay in the dollar, in contrast to countries like the US or UK, who always have the last resort of printing their way out of debt.
Soros also speaks of the other unfortunate trends taking place in Europe, such as the rise of ultra-nationalist parties, and the growth of anti EU parties, and how this can deadlock further European progress.
The latter part of the book contains a basic grounding in Soros's personal philosophy (despite the fact that he refers to himself as a failed philosopher) and is a worthy read in addition to Soros's other works.
In all, a small, but worthy insight into the dilemna facing the EU.
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